Most theories about reincarnation emphasize its apparent
spiritual nature, much of which is involved in an
ethereal realm that cannot be validated. Others treat
reincarnation as only a special case that involves
the inheritance of distinctive physical features or
a set of otherwise unexplained memories connected
to a deceased individual. Belief in the recovery of
apparent past-life memories
reported in quasi-therapeutic or hypnotic sessions
has also influenced the popular image of reincarnation.
Therapists may find that some clients access suspected traumatic memories from a posited previous life-time. Such information in some of these cases (whether valid or not) result in a cathartic resolution of psychosomatic symptoms or psychological disorders. While most of these subjective experiences cannot be considered proof of reincarnation, some of them have been verified. They offer a form of credible evidence of past-life legacies that help us understand the origins of so-called "unlearned" individual behaviors and personal development.
What does science have to say?
Only a few researchers are involved in a significant and systematic scientific effort to gather empirical information on enough alleged reincarnation cases to develop a meaningful data base. One such project was initiated, and largely implemented, by the late psychiatrist Ian Stevenson, MD, at the University of Virginia during more than four decades. This effort continues under psychiatrist Jim B. Tucker, MD, in the Perceptual Studies Division at UVA.
The Reincarnation Experiment directed by Paul Von Ward has developed a psychophysical model of the theoretical mechanism believed to account for both the genotype physical inheritance and the personality predisposition that appears to be transferred from one life to another. See the website www.reincarnationexperiment.org for more details. The body of accumulating evidence suggests that not only physical features, but one's overall phenotype and psychological traits that shape one's health may be inherited by reincarnation.
For the first time, Von Ward and his colleagues have subjected the alleged evidence for reincarnation to a peer-reviewed scientific examination that considers it a natural aspect of biological reproduction. Wouldn't it make sense that if the Dalai Lama or other special cases indicate some form of past-life links, it is equally likely that all of us are influenced by the same process? Given the widespread reports of hypothetical cases, could reincarnation be a universal aspect of Homo sapiens' physical and conscious evolution?
The Reincarnation Experiment
The pilot study, initiated in early 2005, involved a scientific approach to answering such questions. Its testing of the psychophysical model suggested human reproduction involves an info-energetic psychoplasm with patterns that not only activate the physical genome, but mediate the factors (including intention) that influence it. Paul Von Ward's 2008 book The Soul Genome: Science and Reincarnation reports on the evaluation of project cases, examines alternative explanations, and considers their implications.
These results point to some as-yet-still-unexplained, but multifaceted package of genetic, energetic, and informational transfers from one life to another. Detailed case-studies found that predictable specific and verifiable traits or factors can be identified in the present and previous lives of the strongest reincarnation cases.
The integral model that emerged suggests that both physical (genotype) and personality (psycho-energetic) factors are involved. While they may be defined in different terms, the essence of the psychoplasm or "soul-genome" includes at least five core factors. They are the individual's phenotype (biometrics), cerebrotype (cognitive profiles), egotype (emotional predisposition), personatype (interpersonal style), and performatype (creative focus). All of these play a role in the physical and emotional health of each individual.
Implications of the Research.
This ongoing work cannot yet be seen as proof of a general theory of reincarnation, or as validation of a definitive mechanism to account for the obvious patterns of connections between two lifetimes. However, the model's multiple categories of evidence (with high inter-factor reliability) and its predictive capability make it a useful tool for research and personal decision making about one's choices about lifestyle, career, relationships, health, and new creative directions.
Independent analysts can use it to replicate evaluations of alleged reincarnation cases. This may encourage a multidisciplinary effort to test the popular conception of reincarnation, and to determine when researchers are simply creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. The role of health-care professionals in evaluating the evidence is paramount.
The book and the project's evolving web site invite public testing of the methodology and help in refinement of the model. While there is still much work to be done, the preliminary evidence raises some tantalizing issues about both challenges and potential, including the origin of the knowledge and skills of prodigies in music, mathematics, and other fields.
Questions for the Healthy Person?
The best way to maintain one's mental and physical health is to know as much as possible about oneself, including the possible influences of previous lifetimes. What is the basis for precocious (unlearned) behaviors found in all groups of children? Where do childhood choices of successful careers arise? Can unexplained knowledge of people, places, and events reside in real memories? Are so-called instinctual or intuitive relationships based in more than the first "blink" of an encounter? Do we have physical and psychological predispositions that may be the hidden origins of seemingly unsolvable health or other problems?
Thought-provoking evidence evaluated by the project suggests that your physical appearance, the way you think, how you react emotionally to life events, the way you interact with other people, and the creative activities and vocations you choose may be predisposed by the experiences of one or more humans who lived in the past. It raises the possibility that even if you don't know who they were, their "soulprints" may be evident in who you are today.
You and Reincarnation.
Although this still tentative hypothesis must still be labeled speculative, well-developed case studies may change the way you think about human behavior. It may cause you to contemplate that much of what you are today might have come from experiences and knowledge gained in many lifetimes. You might consider the possibility that whom you marry, or not, what you study in school or college, where you live and work, your physical and mental health, how you spend your free time, who your friends are, and what you feel about it reflect the influence of events in centuries past.
How credible are these radical possibilities? Researchers now have thousands of cases where people recall or intuitively act on knowledge and traits that seem to come directly from the private lives of individuals who lived before they were born. Such individual life histories are better explained by something like reincarnation than any other theory.
Interview with Paul Von Ward:
Does Reincarnation Influence Our Health? - Part 1
Interview with Paul Von Ward:
Does Reincarnation Influence Our Health? - Part 2
Paul Von Ward, an interdisciplinary cosmologist and independent scholar, in addition to The Soul Genome, is author of Gods, Genes & Consciousness and Our Solarian Legacy. His research in personality and learning theory involved graduate work at Harvard and Florida State University. Paul also speaks for meetings of the Association for Humanistic Psychology, International Conference on Science and Consciousness, ISSSEEM, IONS, and others. Contact Paul by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on his web site www.vonward.com.
June 19, 2009